Ueli Steck, 39, soloed the Heckmair Route (ED2, 1800m, FA 1938) on the North Face of the Eiger in 2 hours 22 minutes and 50 seconds—beating his previous record by 25 minutes and Dani Arnold’s 2011 solo record of 2 hours 28 minutes. When Steck uploaded the stats from his GPS watch , among time, distance, altitude and speed, it reported an average intensity of “moderate.” Ueli Steck is, the Swiss Machine.
Q&A with Ueli Steck
How many times have you climbed the Eiger North Face this season?
I climbed Heckmair twice before [the speed solo] and I was also climbing a combination of the Metanoia and Japanese route this season.
Last week Kilian Jornet and Nicolas Hojac and I did the Heckmair Route, car to car, in 3 hours 46 minutes — the fastest team ascent.
What made you faster this year compared to your 2008 record?
In 2008 I was free climbing the route and had no track. Now this time there was a track [from the two prior ascents] and I was pulling on some gear.
I pulled [on] some pitons in hard sections.
Furthermore, it is a new record, but this was a result of the specific conditions. We can never compare ascents [on] a face like the Eiger. Conditions and weather are always different.
But this is what makes alpinism interesting and unique. For me it is the personal challenge and your own experience that really matters.
Why try to break the record again? What was your motivation?
My motivation is to just have fun climbing. It was there and the conditions were good. It’s always fun climbing the Eiger.
Can you tell us more about your GPS watch stats? On your Movescount page, it says intensity was “moderate.” Is that in relation to heart rate?
Yes, it tracks my heart rate. I took a relatively moderate pace for the climb. I didn’t want to take too much risk….Speed is also risky.
But I have to say I am also quite fit at the moment. But that’s just the baseline now. I’m beginning my winter training. The potential to progress is still huge.
What’s next for you? Any big plans for the winter?
I’ll be training this winter and doing an expedition in the spring. The training is always fun. You can follow my training regimen on Movescount.com. It’s nothing special, just normal training.
This year we decided we had to adjust my training more towards climbing. I focused more on endurance the last couple years. That’s always been a weakness for me. I’ve improved a lot. But I also lost a lot of climbing skills. So we will work on getting that balance back between climbing and endurance. That’s the focus this winter.